Monday, December 26, 2011

Betty Davis - Betty Davis

I'm not sure when I first discovered Betty Davis, but I know it was fairly recently, so I have not known much about her other than that she was a cool, stylish funk singer who had once been married to Miles Davis. This re-release of her first album has an extensive booklet along with several bonus tracks and lots of information and lots of great music!

Betty grew up with a love of music - her parents and grandparents apparently had an exceptional blues collection - and, unusual for a female, black solo singer, she started writing her own music at about 12 years of age. According to the booklet, she wrote every song that she recorded and arranged the tunes and even helped to produce them!

The musicians on this album are all exceptional and include members of Sly & The Family Stone, Santana, The Pointer Sisters and even Sylvester, among many others. The music is high-energy funk with rock'n'roll power and Betty's unique soulful growl on top of it all. Some people disparaged her singing, but I think she has a fantastic sound - not unlike modern music such as the BellRays at times. She dug a wide variety of music herself, from jazz to soul to funk to rock (she was a friend to many musicians, including Jimi Hendrix) and it all comes together is her tunes.

Davis was a lovely, sexy woman (she was one of the first African-Americans to break into modeling because she was so striking, though she didn't stick with it for long since it did not foster her own creativity) with a distinctive sound and her own vision and this record is a definitive funk milestone. Get it!